February Monthly Focus: Overall Wellness

We have seen time and time again how much financial stress affects every part of students’ lives.  Some students can’t pay their bills and must work a lot.  This situation doesn’t leave a lot of time for studying, which increases their overall stress level and has a negative impact on their grades.  Other students feel like they can’t talk to their friends or family about their financial problems because they mistakenly think that they are the only ones who have trouble with money.  This may make the students feel lonely and depressed, which affects their schoolwork and relationships with friends and classmates.  Fortunately, the Student Money Management Center is here to help!  When a student schedules an appointment with us, they can rest assured that they will have a Money Management Mentor who will not only answer their questions and provide them with financial resources, but who will also be a great listener and confidant for them.  We want students to know that we care about each one who comes into our office, and that anytime a student wants to come in and talk about their financial struggles, they will never be criticized for their past choices but instead guided to making better ones in the future.

Another great resource for students on campus is CAPS- the University Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services.  They are the best campus resource to use if you are feeling alone, anxious, depressed, or are having other difficulties.  The first 3 counseling visits are free for each student.  CAPS is available on City Campus Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm and on East Campus by appointment.  The CAPS office is located in the Health Center, Room 213.  They can be reached at 402-472-7450 or health.unl.edu/CAPS

For more resources on mental health and overall wellness, check out our bulletin board with our February Monthly Focus!

New Year’s Financial Resolutions

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably already given up on your New Year’s resolution. 25% of Americans give up on their New Year’s resolution after less than a week!  The problem with New Year’s Financial Resolutions is that the goal is only one year.  Unfortunately, money management is a lifelong task.  If you need to change your money habits, you don’t have to wait until January 1st to start fresh.  You need to start NOW so that you can stop bad money habits that are losing you money and start good habits that make you money.  If you are totally overwhelmed by your finances and need to talk it out with someone, that is exactly what we are here for!  You can schedule an appointment anytime online at https://unlsmmc.youcanbook.me/

We understand if you’re one of those people who need short-term goals to help them stay motivated.  On our holiday financial hub webpage (http://www.unl.edu/smmc/your-holiday-financial-hub) we have some financial resolutions that you can start with this year to put yourself on the path to financial wellness.  Two of our favorites are making a budget and enlisting the support of a friend, significant other, or family member.

Budgets are super important, and as many of you may know, are one of our favorite things at the SMMC!  We love budgets because they give us a clear picture of where our money is going each month and we don’t have to feel guilty about spending it!  The goal of a budget is not to try to stop you from spending money on the things you want.  Rather it is to give you the peace of mind that you can afford what you are spending your money on.

Once you make a budget, start saving for a goal, or try to start spending more wisely, you should tell the people closest to you what your plan is.  This doesn’t mean you have to tell them that you are only spending $50 on fast food this month.  Instead, share with them that you are trying to start budgeting, saving your money, etc.  This way they will understand if you suggest getting a RedBox movie instead of going to the theaters so you can save money.  They may also begin to encourage you to reach your financial goals.  Many students who we meet with are reluctant to tell their friends or family because they feel like they are the only one who doesn’t understand money.  In reality, many friends and family have also been through financial struggles and can be good resources and support for you.  If you’re still not convinced, you can always come talk to an SMMC representative.  Our advising appointments are completely confidential, meaning we will never tell anyone any details about our meeting, or even that you came to meet with us unless you want us to.  We won’t even be upset if you don’t say hi to us on campus. 😉 If you still don’t think you can talk to someone about your financial struggles, check out our website for resources (unl.edu/smmc)

Federal Financial Aid for Graduate & Professional Students

Congratulations! You got that degree. With many cups of coffee and late night snack wrappers in your wake, you’ve done it! So what’s next; job, travel, graduate or professional school?

For those accepted to graduate and professional programs, congratulations! Now a new issue arises. How do you pay for it? Especially if you already have loans from undergraduate studies, it can be stressful trying to figure out what to do. The good news is there are options.

The Federal Student Aid portion of the US Department of Education provides large amounts of financial aid to students every year for both undergraduate and postgraduate education. One important thing to remember when applying for this financial aid is that graduate and professional degree students do not have to include parent information on their FAFSA. This could help you receive more aid, as you most likely do not have the current income your parents do.

Some examples of aid available include:

  1. William D Ford Federal Direct Loan Program—the Education Department is your lender:
    1. Direct Unsubsidized Loans-students may borrow up to $20,500 per school year and some health profession enrollees may receive more
    2. Direct PLUS Loans-for those students who need more than the maximum direct unsubsidized loan—be aware, a credit check will be performed on you
  2. Federal Perkins Loan Program: school-based loan program that you can get up to $8,000 each year depending on your need and funds available from your school
  3. Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant: grants up to $4,000 for students working to begin a career in teaching (must take certain classes to qualify)
  4. Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program: provides part time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial aid through jobs to pay off education expenses
  5. Federal Pell Grant: does not have to be repaid, eligible if you are in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program

To qualify for federal student aid there are certain requirements which you can find at StudentAid.gov/eligibility. Be sure to complete the FAFSA for free at www.fafsa.gov to qualify for federal student aid.

Some other helpful places to look for financial aid include:

-StudentAid.gov/types -other agency funding

www.ed.gov/sgt -state offered assistance

-Your school

-www.careerinfonet.org/scholarshipsearch

-Foundations, organizations, or local businesses

-Your employer may offer some educational assistance programs

The best way to finance your education is to use scholarships and grant money first, then work-study money, and finally borrowed money. Scholarships and grant money don’t have to be paid back, whereas loan money does. Always pay attention the source of the loan, what its terms and conditions are, and make sure you only borrow what you need. The key is to research your options. You never know what might be available to you. The Department of Education can be a huge help in finding and verifying loans and aid.

Article by Erik Witt, SMMC Volunteer